The call to prayer breaks the hustle and bustle of an urban sonic landscape in unique ways. For Muslims living in Hamtramck, Michigan broadcasting the adhān was one way of space-making, which demarcated the city as Muslim space. In Muslim American City: Gender and Religion in Metro Detroit (NYU Press, 2020), Alisa Perkins, Associate Professor at Western Michigan University, explores the debate around the local call to prayer as well as other scenarios where Muslims navigate public and politic space. Hamtramck has one of the largest concentrations of Muslim residents of any American city. Perkins walks us through neighborhoods, homes, mosques, and schools in her rich ethnography to show how different communities plot gendered and religious boundaries. In our conversation we discuss the history of Hamtramck, Bangladeshi immigration patterns, Yemeni transnational activities, high school classrooms, public prayer, gender distancing, LGBTQ rights, the relationship between secularism and pluralism, public space, interfaith coalitions, and the effects of legislation.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.